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TRANSFORMER is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another by electromagnetic induction (transformer action).

The electrical energy is always transferred without a change in frequency, but may involve changes in magnitudes of voltage and current. Because a transformer works on the principle of electromagnetic induction, it must be used with an input source voltage that varies in amplitude. There are many types of power that fit this description; for ease of explanation and understanding, transformer action will be explained using an ac voltage as the input source.

You learned that alternating current has certain advantages over direct current. One important advantage is that when ac is used, the voltage and current levels can be increased or decreased by means of a transformer.

As you know, the amount of power used by the load of an electrical circuit is equal to the current in the load times the voltage across the load, or P = EI. If, for example, the load in an electrical circuit requires an input of 2 amperes at 10 volts (20 watts) and the source is capable of

delivering only 1 ampere at 20 volts, the circuit could not normally be used with this particular source. However, if a transformer is connected between the source and the load, the voltage can be decreased (stepped down) to 10 volts and the current increased (stepped up) to 2 amperes. Notice in the above case that the power remains the same. That is, 20 volts times 1 ampere equals the same power as 10 volts times 2 amperes.

BASIC OPERATION OF A TRANSFORMER In its most basic form a transformer consists of: * A primary coil or winding. * A secondary coil or winding. * A core that supports the coils or windings.

Refer to the transformer circuit in figure (1) as you read the following explanation: The primary winding is connected to a 50 hertz ac voltage source. The magnetic field (flux) builds up (expands) and collapses (contracts) about the primary winding. The expanding and contracting magnetic field around the primary winding cuts the secondary winding and induces an alternating voltage into the winding. This voltage causes alternating current to flow through the load. The voltage may be stepped up or down depending on the design of the primary and secondary windings.

Figure (1). - Basic transformer action THE COMPONENTS OF A TRANSFORMER Two coils of wire (called windings) are wound on some type of core material. In some cases the coils of wire are wound on a cylindrical or rectangular cardboard form. In effect, the core material is air and the transformer is called an AIR-CORE

TRANSFORMER. Transformers used at low frequencies, such as 50 hertz and 400 hertz, require a core of low-reluctance magnetic material, usually iron. This type of transformer is called an IRON-CORE TRANSFORMER. Most power transformers are of the iron-core type. The principle parts of a transformer and their functions are: * The CORE, which provides a path for the magnetic lines of flux. * The PRIMARY WINDING, which receives energy from the ac source. * The SECONDARY WINDING, which receives energy from the primary winding and delivers it to the load. * The ENCLOSURE, which protects the above components from dirt, moisture, and mechanical damage.


The composition of a transformer core depends on such factors as voltage, current, and frequency. Size limitations and construction costs are also factors to be considered.

Commonly used core materials are air, soft iron, and steel. Each of these materials is suitable for particular applications and unsuitable for others. Generally, air-core transformers are used when the voltage source has a high frequency (above 20 kHz). Iron-core transformers are usually used when the source frequency is low (below 20 kHz). A soft-iron-core transformer is very useful where the transformer must be physically small, yet efficient. The iron-core transformer provides better power transfer than does the air-core transformer. A transformer whose core is constructed of laminated sheets of steel dissipates heat readily; thus it provides for the efficient transfer of power. The majority of transformers you will encounter in Navy equipment contain laminated-steel cores. These steel laminations (see figure 2) are insulated with a non conducting material, such as varnish, and then formed into a core. It takes about 50 such laminations to make a core an inch thick. The purpose of the laminations is to reduce certain losses which will be discussed later in this part. An important point to remember is that the most efficient transformer core is one that offers the best path for the most lines of flux with the least loss in magnetic and electrical energy.

Figure (2). - Hollow-core construction. Core Type Transformers There are two main shapes of cores used in laminated-steel-core transformers. One is the CORE Type, so named because the core is shaped with a hollow square through the center. Figure 5-2illustrates this shape of core. Notice that the core is made up of many laminations of steel. Figure (3) illustrates how the transformer windings are wrapped around both sides of the core.

Figure (3). - Windings wrapped around laminations Shell-Core Transformers The most popular and efficient transformer core is the SHELL CORE, as illustrated in figure(4). As shown, each layer of the core consists of Eand I-shaped sections of metal. These sections are butted together to form the laminations. The laminations are insulated from each other and then pressed together to form the core.

Figure (4). - Shell-type core construction TRANSFORMER WINDINGS As stated above, the transformer consists of two coils called WINDINGS which are wrapped around a core. The transformer operates when a source of ac voltage is connected to one of the windings and a load device is connected to the other. The winding that is connected to the source is called the PRIMARY WINDING. The winding that is connected to the load is called the SECONDARY WINDING. (Note: In this part the terms "primary winding" and "primary" are used interchangeably; the term: "secondary winding" and "secondary" are also used interchangeably.) Figure (5) shows an exploded view of a shell-type transformer. The primary is wound in layers directly on a rectangular cardboard form.

Figure (5). - Exploded view of shell-type transformer construction. In the transformer shown in the cutaway view in figure (6), the primary consists of many turns of relatively small wire. The wire is coated with varnish so that each turn of the winding is insulated from every other turn. In a transformer designed for high-voltage applications, sheets of insulating material, such as paper, are placed between the layers of windings to provide additional insulation.

Figure (6). - Cutaway view of shell-type core with windings When the primary winding is completely wound, it is wrapped in insulating paper or cloth. The secondary winding is then wound on top of the primary winding. After the secondary winding is complete, it too is covered with insulating paper. Next, the E and I sections of the iron core are inserted into and around the windings as shown. The leads from the windings are normally brought out through a hole in the enclosure of the transformer. Sometimes, terminals may be provided on the enclosure for connections to the windings. The figure shows four leads, two from the primary and two from the secondary. These leads are to be connected to the source and load, respectively.

SCHEMATIC SYMBOLS FOR TRANSFORMERS Figure (7) shows typical schematic symbols for transformers. The symbol for an air-core transformer is shown in figure (7-A). Parts (B) and (C)

show iron-core transformers. The bars between the coils are used to indicate an iron core. Frequently, additional connections are made to the transformer windings at points other than the ends of the windings. These additional connections are called TAPS. When a tap is connected to the center of the winding, it is called a CENTER TAP. Figure (7- C) shows the schematic representation of a center-tapped iron-core transformer.

Figure (7). - Schematic symbols for various types of transformers

HOW A TRANSFORMER WORKS Up to this point the part has presented the basics of the transformer including transformer action, the transformer's physical characteristics, and how the transformer is constructed. Now you have the necessary knowledge to proceed into the theory of operation of a transformer.

NO-LOAD CONDITION You have learned that a transformer is capable of supplying voltages which are usually higher or lower than the source voltage. This is accomplished through mutual induction, which takes place when the changing magnetic field produced by the primary voltage cuts the secondary winding. A no-load condition is said to exist when a voltage is applied to the primary, but no load is connected to the secondary, as illustrated by figure ( . Because of the open switch, there is no current flowing in the secondary winding. With the switch open and an ac voltage applied to the primary, there is, however, a very small amount of current called EXCITING CURRENT flowing in the primary. Essentially, what the exciting current does is "excite" the coil of the primary to create a magnetic field. The amount of exciting current is determined by three factors: (1) the amount of voltage applied (Ea), (2) the resistance (R) of the primary coil's wire and core losses, and (3) the XL which is dependent on the frequency of the exciting current. These last two factors are controlled by transformer design.

Figure ( . - Transformer under no-load conditions This very small amount of exciting current serves two functions: * Most of the exciting energy is used to maintain the magnetic field of the primary. * A small amount of energy is used to overcome the resistance of the wire and core losses which are dissipated in the form of heat (power loss).

Exciting current will flow in the primary winding at all times to maintain this magnetic field, but no transfer of energy will take place as long as the secondary circuit is open.

PRODUCING A COUNTER EMF When an alternating current flows through a primary winding, a magnetic field is established around the winding. As the lines of flux expand outward, relative motion is present, and a counter emf is induced in the winding. This is the same counter emf that you learned about in the part on inductors. Flux leaves the primary at the north pole and enters the primary at the south pole. The counter emf induced in the primary has a polarity that opposes the applied voltage, thus opposing the flow of current in the primary. It is the counter emf that limits exciting current to a very low value.

INDUCING A VOLTAGE IN THE SECONDARY To visualize how a voltage is induced into the secondary winding of a transformer, again refer to figure ( . As the exciting current flows through the primary, magnetic lines of force are generated. During the time current is increasing in

the primary, magnetic lines of force expand outward from the primary and cut the secondary. As you remember, a voltage is induced into a coil when magnetic lines cut across it. Therefore, the voltage across the primary causes a voltage to be induced across the secondary.


The secondary voltage of a simple transformer may be either in phase or out of phase with the primary voltage. This depends on the direction in which the windings are wound and the arrangement of the connections to the external circuit (load). Simply, this means that the two voltages may rise and fall together or one may rise while the other is falling. Transformers in which the secondary voltage is in phase with the primary are referred to as LIKE-WOUND transformers, while those in which the voltages are 180 degrees out of phase are called UNLIKE-WOUND transformers. Dots are used to indicate points on a transformer schematic symbol that have the same instantaneous polarity (points that are in phase). The use of phase-indicating dots is illustrated in figure (9). In part (A) of the figure, both the primary and secondary windings are wound from top to bottom in a clockwise direction, as viewed from above the windings. When constructed in this manner, the top lead of the primary and the top lead of the secondary have the SAME polarity. This is indicated by the dots on the transformer symbol. A lack of phasing dots indicates a reversal of polarity.

Figure (9). - Instantaneous polarity depends on direction of winding Part (B) of the figure illustrates a transformer in which the primary and secondary are wound in opposite directions. As viewed from above the windings, the primary is wound in a clockwise direction from top to bottom, while the secondary is wound in a counterclockwise direction. Notice that the top leads of the primary and secondary have OPPOSITE polarities. This is indicated by the dots being placed on opposite ends of the transformer symbol. Thus, the polarity of the voltage at the terminals of the secondary of a transformer depends on the direction in which the secondary is wound with respect to the primary.


The COEFFICIENT OF COUPLING of a transformer is dependent on the portion of the total flux lines that cuts both primary and secondary windings. Ideally, all the flux lines generated by the primary should cut the secondary, and all the lines of the flux generated by the secondary should cut the primary. The coefficient of coupling would then be one (unity), and maximum energy would be transferred from the primary to the secondary. Practical power transformers use high-permeability silicon steel cores and close spacing between the windings to provide a high coefficient of coupling. Lines of flux generated by one winding which do not link with the other winding are called LEAKAGE FLUX. Since leakage flux generated by the primary does not cut the secondary, it cannot induce a voltage into the secondary. The voltage induced into the secondary is therefore less than it would be if the leakage flux did not exist. Since the effect of leakage flux is to lower the voltage induced into the secondary, the effect can be duplicated by assuming an inductor to be connected in series with the primary. This series LEAKAGE INDUCTANCE is assumed to drop part of the applied voltage, leaving less voltage across the primary.